The King’s College London Symphony Orchestra is the flagship ensemble of the Music Department at KCL, and over the past 15 years it has grown both in size and stature to make its mark on the capital’s music scene, emerging as one of the best student-led orchestras in the UK and attracting members from a variety of institutions across London as well as King’s College London itself. Based in the heart of Central London, on the famous street that is The Strand, the opportunity to perform in a variety of the capital’s historic and beautiful venues and make music alongside extremely talented student musicians has continued to inspire our members.
KCLSO has flourished under the batons of renowned conductors since it was founded. Beginning with Toby Purser (Principal Conductor, Orion Orchestra) the role of musical director then passed on to Robert Tuohy (Assistant Conductor, Orchestre National de Montpellier), Daniel Cohen (Principal Conductor, Jersey Chamber Orchestra) and then to Dominic Grier (Guest Conductor, The Royal Ballet and Opéra National de Lyon). In 2012, KCLSO was delighted to welcome Jonathan Lo as musical director, who continues to lead the orchestra to new levels of success.
In the 2019-2020 season, KCLSO welcomed Christopher Quentin McMullen-Laird as our new musical director and conductor, beginning the season with Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. Christopher guest-conducted KCLSO on tour to France in 2019 and he quickly demonstrated a level of expertise and commitment that doesn't come around too often. In June of 2020, Christopher sadly passed away after complications following surgery. Not only did the world loose an amazing musician, but KCLSO lost a treasured friend who was one of the purest souls one would ever have the blessing to meet. We are a better ensemble, and are better people for having known Christopher. Our thoughts, prayers, and love go out to Chris's husband, Sindre, and the McMullen-Laird Family. Please visit his memorial page, set up by his family, which can be found linked in our news section.
Not only does KCLSO perform in our home city of London, we also represent our university and the best of student music making abroad on our international tours. Past destinations include Spain, Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg, where we have been met with great hospitality, enthusiasm (and standing ovations). Our most recent tour to the Loire Valley was a great success, featuring Hannah Littlechild with Kabalevsky's Violin Concerto, and we’re very much looking forward to our next adventure in Summer 2020.
Our 2019 summer tour to the Loire Valley saw the orchestra perform to three sold out concerts in which our main piece was Dvorak's Eighth Symphony, as well as performing the Kabalevsky Violin Concerto featuring our very own Hannah Littlechild, both under the baton of Christopher Quentin. Our 2019-202 Assistant Conductor, Dominic Blanchard, conducted a mystical and highly-applauded performance of Ravel's Bolero.
Unfortunately, as a result of the global pandemic of COVID-19, our 2020 Summer Tour to Prague had to be cancelled. We are gutted that this had to be the case, but we are determined to hold an amazing tour in 2021 that will not disappoint.
As well as providing valuable and varied orchestral experience, KCLSO holds an annual concerto competition. This provides the opportunity for some of our extremely gifted members, plus members of the King’s music department, to showcase their talent alongside the orchestra. Our 2019-2020 season saw welcomed Alex Dawkins to play the Khachaturian Violin Concerto, and Erchao Gu to perform the Britten Piano Concerto.
As an orchestra, we pride ourselves on our work with young, emerging conductors. KCLSO offer the opportunity of an Assistant Conductor position to a KCL music student for a season, providing extremely valuable orchestral conducting experience with one-to-one coaching from our Musical Director. Previous Assistant Conductors have gone on to undertake postgraduate conducting studies at institutions including the Royal Academy of Music and Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. As well as this, we also take part in masterclasses as part of an orchestral conducting course run by Colin Metters at KCL, allowing several young conductors to have their first experience leading a full-scale symphony orchestra.
Make sure to look at the drop down menus tabs for more information about our Musical Director, Committee and other KCLSO information.